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Posts from the ‘Friday’s Reading List’ Category

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Odilon Redon, "The Cyclops," 1898. Via .

Odilon Redon, “The Cyclops,” 1898. Via Wikimedia.

Last Sunday the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly voted to impeach president Dilma Rousseff. Buzzfeed Brasil rounded up dramatic photos of the impeachment vote and protests for and against Rousseff.

As a helpful graphic from the BBC illustrates, the Senate will now decide via a majority vote whether to open an impeachment trial. If so, Rousseff will be suspended for up to 180 days, leaving executive power in the hands of Vice President Michel Temer, whose party recently abandoned the embattled president and Rousseff has accused of orchestrating the “coup” against her. A Senate trial requiring a two-thirds majority will then decide Rousseff’s fate.

But is the attempt to impeach Rousseff a coup? Laura Carvalho says yes (via FP Interrupted). Amy Erica Smith (via Suparna Chaudhry) concludes that it is not a coup — which is of course a loaded term, especially in a country where the military overthrew a civilian government as recently as 1964 – but that the impeachment process is “a misuse of democratic procedure.” Colin M. Snider is “somewhat sympathetic to the nuanced idea that this might be a ‘legal coup’” but argues that nevertheless Rousseff’s removal would be very damaging to Brazil’s political institutions and culture. “Yesterday’s vote reveals another crack” in Brazil’s fragile presidential parliamentary system, Snider writes, “as a majority of people can effectively vote in a president, only to have Congress attempt to remove that president.” It is hard to square this de facto parliamentary no confidence vote with the spirit of a directly-elected presidency.

More systematically, Uri Friedman looks at how the Brazilian political system encourages unwieldy coalitions of many fragmented parties motivated by rent-seeking rather than ideology, which in turn feeds Brazil’s culture of political corruption. As political scientists Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan write, cited by Friedman, the Brazilian electoral system gives “extensive and very tangible incentives for ‘rent-seeking’ behavior by political entrepreneurs who create parties to use as tradeable assets or as a way of avoiding party discipline.”

Temer’s PMDB, undoubtably the king of rent-seeking behavior, hopes form “a government of national salvation” following Rousseff’s ouster, in PMDB Congressman Darcísio Perondi’s words. Catherine Osborn looks at the corruption-ridden party’s plans.

With a somewhat sympathetic view of Rousseff’s center-left Workers’ Party, Perry Anderson examines how Brazilian politics reached the breaking point (via Bernardo Jurema). For additional background, last May Bloomberg reviewed the massive corruption scandal centered around the state-controlled Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, which has contributed to Brazil’s political crisis.

For Spanish-readers, in the Colombian weekly Semana Marta Ruiz reports on leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels awaiting peace (via Juan Forero). Particularly noteworthy is many FARC members’ confidence – or at least professed confidence – that after signing a peace deal with the government they will be accepted by Colombia’s ‘polarized’ society.

Why does Greenland have the highest known suicide rate in the world? Rebecca Hersher reports on the roots – which include rapid cultural changes and Danish colonialism – of the epidemic. (Via Kim Ghattas and Scott Peterson.)

Bloomberg interviews Saudi deputy crown prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Noting the single mention of Saudi Arabia’s disastrous US-aided war in Yemen, Tom Gara comments “imagine a 2005 profile of George Bush that doesn’t mention Iraq or Afghanistan.”

In a predominantly-Latino Los Angeles neighborhood, activists test the limits of anti-gentrification tactics (via Mehreen Kasana).

Note: Updated for clarity.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

John Bauer, "The Princess and the Trolls," 1913. Via Wikimedia.

John Bauer, “The Princess and the Trolls,” 1913. Via Wikimedia.

Stories I appreciated this week:

Alex Cuadros reports on how the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos that are repelled by air conditioning, exposes Brazil’s stark class divide.

Adam Isacson runs down the prospects for further US aid for the Colombian peace process, assuming the government is able to reach a deal with the FARC rebel group. Colombian president Santos recently said that there would be no extension of the peace talks beyond the self-imposed late March deadline.

Mark Galeotti looks at Russian military modernization, concluding that “today, Russian military might as we know it is halfway between a fact and a psychological warfare operation.”

Hugh Eakin on how Denmark is grappling with the refugee crisis, the challenge of assimilating immigrants, and its own latent prejudice (via Angela Chen). As others have noted, it is easy to liken the European nationalist right – “what made the Danish People’s Party particularly potent,” Eakin writes of a Danish populist party opposed to immigration,  “was its robust defense of wealth redistribution and advanced welfare benefits for all Danes” – to Donald Trump.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

1915 British recruiting poster, printed by Spottiswoode & Co. Ltd. London E.C. Via Wikimedia.

1915 British recruiting poster, printed by Spottiswoode & Co. Ltd. London E.C. Via Wikimedia.

Stories I enjoyed this week:

In a story profiling the scions of China’s wealthy building lives in Vancouver, Jiayang Fan mentions how corruption and the government’s periodic purges drive the wealthy abroad:

“But, for affluent Chinese, the most basic reason to move abroad is that fortunes in China are precarious. The concerns go deeper than anxiety about the country’s slowing growth and turbulent stock market; it is very difficult to progress above a certain level in business without cultivating, and sometimes buying, the support of government officials, who are often ousted in anti-corruption sweeps instigated by rivals.”

This seems like a serious institutional barrier to future Chinese growth. (Via Andrew Erickson.)

Rio de Janeiro sold the Olympics as an impetus to transform the city. One problem: Rio isn’t meeting many of the Olympic commitments that would improve the lives of its citizens, including sanitation (via Mark Healey). Given the state’s history of failed promises, many residents are understandably wary of new sanitation initiatives.

Max Fisher recounts how neoconservative ideology let America into deluding itself into the invasion of Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has urged the UK to retain its nuclear forces, arguing that Britain’s Trident has “”continue to play that outsized role on the global stage that it does because of its moral standing and its historical standing”. (Story initially via Reuters.) Interestingly this contradicts a 2013 report that the US quietly supported more British spending on conventional forces, rather than its nuclear deterrent. Jarrod Hayes discussed this at the time.

Janell Ross on what Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz’ brief debate clash over the latter’s Spanish skills reveals about the two Republican candidates’ upbringing, and Spanish’s place in American public life (via Damien Cave and EM Simpson).

Yelena Akopian has photos from a summer in Georgia.

Discussing why much of the coffee served in Colombia is subpar, Mark Wetzler mentions my favorite Bogotá coffee shop.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

August Macke, "Portrait of the artist's wife with a hat," 1909. Via Wikimedia.

August Macke, “Portrait of the artist’s wife with a hat,” 1909. Via Wikimedia.

Stories I enjoyed this week:

James Simpson recounts how a 29 year old Soviet fighter pilot defected by flying his MiG-25 interceptor to Japan, revealing the feared aircraft’s capabilities. Japanese authorities returned the MiG to the USSR in pieces, and “cheekily, the Japanese included a bill for $4o,000 to cover the shipping costs and damage” caused by the pilot’s wild landing.

David E. Hoffman discusses the 1983 “Able Archer” NATO exercise, which a paranoid Soviet leadership nearly interpreted as preparations for an unprovoked nuclear strike (via Erik Loomis).

Somewhat relatedly, Dave Majumdar questions the wisdom of Russia’s ambitious efforts to acquire and develop a diverse mix of different combat aircraft.

Médecins Sans Frontières has released their initial report on the early October US attack on a Afghanistan hospital that killed dozens of patients and MSF staff.

In an interview with the Washington PostColombian president Juan Manuel Santos praises the US’ Colombia policy: “I can say without the slightest doubt it has been the United States’ most successful bipartisan foreign policy of the past several decades. The peace process is just the cherry on the cake.” Flagging the interview, Boz writes that the US “should be as willing (or more willing) to provide economic and development aid to consolidate peace as we were to provide military and security assistance when Colombia’s conflict threatened the country’s stability.”

The continuing tragedy of the Middle East’s minority communities: more and more Christians flee Iraq, increasingly intending never to return. “Even if the situation in Iraq gets better, no matter how safe it is, there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again,” says one refugee.

After the death of Ahmed Chalabi this week, many are reflecting on his responsibility for the Iraq war. Despite George W. Bush’s ignorance and warmongering enthusiasm, Martin Longman writes, he “would not have found it so easy to lead our foreign policy establishment and our nation into war if Ahmed Chalabi hadn’t been going around Washington DC for years telling everyone how simple it would be to get rid of Saddam” (via Ed Kilgore). In response to a piece by Aram Roston, on Twitter Matt Duss remarks that “there’s been a very troubling amount of ‘blame the wily foreigner’ in the coverage of Chalabi’s death.” Hannah Allam remembers Chalabi in Iraq during the occupation (via Kelsey D. Atherton).

Despite reaching the nuclear deal this summer, hardliners within the Iranian state are cracking down – often targeting Iranian-Americans – in what appears to be a backlash against President Rouhani’s successes. It’s worth remembering that the risk of these spoiling tactics was anticipated by Rouhani himself (via John Allen Gay), and he has not done much to reduce oppression within Iran (via Melissa Etehad). Barbara Slavin also reports on rights abuses and potential means of pressuring Iran.

Beth Alvarado on groundwater poisoning in Tucson, caused by the chemicals used to clean airplanes:

“Clear patterns didn’t emerge, but sometimes several people in one family would die. Finally, the city tested the water. Some estimates showed TCE contamination at 1,000 times the federal health standards. They closed wells. There were court cases. Red lines were drawn around the housing developments, housing developments where 75 percent of the residents were Hispanic and low-income; once the developments were red-lined, it was impossible to sell those houses, so people stayed where they were.”

This is also via Erik Loomis, who comments “that most of the people suffering in this Tucson neighborhood are Latino should be expected as the correlation between pollution exposure and race is well-documented and is a classic example of environmental racism.”

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

A. Kurkin ,Tale of the Golden Cockerel, Alexander Pushkin tale illustration, 1968. Via Soviet Postcards.

A. Kurkin, Tale of the Golden Cockerel, Alexander Pushkin tale illustration, 1968. Via Soviet Postcards.

Stories I enjoyed this week:

Bernardo Aparicio García reflects on Netflix’s new series Narcos and growing up in Colombia during the violence-racked 1980s and early 1990s.

At Americas Quarterly, Matias Spektor reviews how diplomacy and personal trust amongst national leaders helped shutter Argentina and Brazil’s nuclear weapons programs.

Economic challenges and frustrated electorates are ending an era where Latin American leaders and their anointed successors were reelected again and again, Brian Winter argues.

Miriam Berger reports from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where government-funded American students travel to learn Persian. The Tajik language is similar to Persian – “except after 60 years under Russian rule, Tajiks pepper their talk with Russian and write using Cyrillic letters instead of Arabic” – but the city offers students few opportunities to interact with Iranians. However, studying in Iran is off limits for many students: ““At some point I’m going to have to get a security clearance, so going to Iran wasn’t still too much of an option,” says one.

From a security standpoint these concerns may be justified, but are also a barrier to building deep regional expertise within US agencies. “Organizations like the Foreign Service and the Central Intelligence Agency have a deep institutional prejudice against their employees ‘going native,’ rotating officers every two or three years to avoid someone’s becoming too identified with local interests and cultures,” CIA veteran Philip Giraldi wrote in a 2013 American Conservative piece. This bias against deep regional knowledge is compounded by an institutional wariness of potential recruits “who possess the language skills and cultural awareness that would enable them to operate in areas where most CIA case officers dare not tread, which means they are mostly first- and second-generation Muslim Americans.”

Relatedly, Berger looks at the food scene among the Afghan diaspora in Dushanbe.

Hilary Matfess challenges a recent Bloomberg feature on the “ungoverned world” (via Kevin Baron). This framing, Matfess writes, “ignores the extant order–however perverse it may be–that communities under rebel control are subjected to. These spaces are not ‘ungoverned,’ they are ‘alternatively governed.'” José C. Contreras has a similar critique.

Marc Parry profiles economists Dani Rodrik and Pinar Dogan’s investigation into an aborted coup the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan alleges was planned by Turkey’s military elite. Given Turkey’s history of military coups many Turkish liberals refused to accept the possibility that the plot, and subsequent high-profile trials and convictions of leading officers, was a fraud – an allegation that Erdoğan’s increasingly blatant authoritarianism makes difficult to ignore. (Via Yelena Nana.)

Relatedly, Borzou Daragahi reports on People’s Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş, days before key elections in Turkey.

Lant Pritchett discusses how the UN’s Millennium Development Goals don’t, in Rachel Strohm’s words, ” match the policy priorities of people from low income countries.”

From June, Owen Hatherley visits Moscow’s industrial housing – “where homes would become mass-produced commodities like cars, fridges and TVs” – which offers a fascinating history of Soviet urban planning. Opulent construction ordered by Stalin was totally insufficient to meet the USSR’s housing crisis, and later industrial housing project ranged from a flagship “instant prefabricated community” to mass-produced “sleeping districts.”

An older Tyler Rogoway piece examines the Soviet Union’s ambitious Alfa-class fast attack submarine, and a 1993 report by Gerhardt Thamm sheds light on how American intelligence analysts investigated puzzling reports of the highly advanced, unorthodox Soviet submarine. In particular, the Alfa’s crew escape pod challenged Western assumptions that the Soviets had a low regard for human life.

Thomas F. Schaller examines the structural factors in the American political system that favor Republicans, including the overrepresentation of small states in Congress, the geographic concentration of Democratic voters, and certain procedural rules, as well as how majority of state and local elections are scheduled off the presidential election cycle (via Ed Kilgore).

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian collects Chinese citizens’ reactions to the move to end the country’s brutal one-child policy (latter via Garance Franke-Ruta).

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Illustration from Stanley Lane-Poole's "Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt," 1883. Based on work by Harry Fenn. Via Wikimedia.

Illustration from Stanley Lane-Poole’s “Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt,” 1883. Based on work by Harry Fenn. Via Wikimedia.

Stories I enjoyed this week:

Karla Zabludovsky reports from a small town in the Mexican state of Michoacán where self-defense militias, many dressed in camouflage uniforms bearing the flag of their indigenous community, disarmed police and chased away illegal loggers. But the town’s new governance isn’t universally popular, and barred voting in statewide elections in the town.

Jason Margolis on Bogotá’s stop-gap transit solution – buses in dedicated lanes, all while awaiting a hoped-for but expensive subway.

Charlie Jane Anders profiles the history of the international, and luckily fading, movement doubting the link between HIV and AIDS. Tragically, when scientists discovered the link between the virus and disease the LGBTQ community’s justifiable distrust of abusive state and institutional figures had lethal consequences. “We weren’t denialists,” Anders quotes one activist, speaking about the 1980s. “We just didn’t fucking trust anybody.”

On Twitter, Kelsey D. Atherton praised an April piece by Gregory D. Johnsen on CIA Director John Brennan’s close relationship with Barack Obama and the path towards “endless drone war.”

In Germany, activists opposed to the arms trade are attempting to draw a link between weapons exports and Europe’s refugee crisis. While of course directly attributing Middle Eastern conflicts to Germany’s arms business is wrong, the message may catch on among the public: “Germany delivered nearly 13 million euros in weapons to Syria between 2002 and 2013 – mainly tanks, chemical agents and small arms.”

Timothy Hoyt attempts to explain Obama’s Middle East strategy while rejecting accusations that Obama is unable to take sensible advice to abandon the region. Instead, Obama’s apparent mix of attention and neglect can instead be seen as a prudent response to the real limitations of both US interests and leverage. “The objective of strategy, after all, is to calibrate available resources to achieve political aims; and if those aims are overly ambitious, like fixing a broken Syria or ending Sunni–Shi’a conflict, or are ill-suited to our available means or public support, we may find ourselves bankrupt when threats to more significant interests arise.”

At Reuters, Ned Parker investigates the Iraqi state’s waning power compared to overtly sectarian paramilitaries. “Most young Shi’ite Iraqi men now prefer to join the paramilitary groups, which are seen as braver and less corrupt” than the regular military, Parker writes.

Also at Reuters, Maria Tsvetkova, Christian Lowe, and Olga Dzyubenko speak with veterans of the USSR’s shadowy history in the Middle East.

The Iranian government’s intelligence thugs harass and imprison the American-Iranian journalists who attempt to explain Iran to the world because, writes Azadeh Moaveni from experience, they “have an ideological vision of Iran’s future that requires continued isolation” (via Scott Peterson and Azadeh Moaveni).

Ryan McMahon on Justin Trudeau’s victory and Indigenous rights in Canada (via Mannfred Nyttingnes).

I’ve been working my way through the archives at Roads & Kingdomsand Nick Ashdown’s 2014 story on Istanbul’s last, dying Greek paper is very affecting.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Arturo Michelena, "Miranda en La Carraca," 1896. Via Wikimedia.

Arturo Michelena, “Miranda en La Carraca,” 1896. Via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

Police violence against Black Americans is a human rights crisis, and one I believe would get more attention and sympathy from US elites if it was happening abroad (via Shaun King). Relatedly, a thought-provoking exchange on crime, racism, and the drug war: “Racism gave us a feeling of carte blanche to live outside the laws of society, or so we thought” (via Jamil Smith).

What happens if you’re mugged in Mexico City and go to the police (via Boz).

On the wave of violence in East Jerusalem: Vice has an worthwhile series of video reports (which casually claim that it is a third intifada). Academic commenters at Political Violence @ a Glance examine the causes of the recent upswing in violence. Sheera Frenkel reports on the pervasive fear within Israeli and Palestinian communities.

Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer and Olivier Schmitt look at France’s renewed enthusiasm for military interventions. They suggest that after the end of the Cold War France’s desire to preserve its global status and influence vis à vis emerging economic powers like Japan prompted it to turn to the “competitive advantage” of military prowess, “which it thus needed to demonstrate.”

Branko Milanovic comments on why elites in the developed world care more about poverty abroad than within their own countries (via Patrick Iber).

How history vanishes from the internet (via Alexandra Garcia and Anup Kaphle).

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

James Rattray, 19th-century lithograph depicting royal Afghan soldiers, 1846. The British Library - Online Gallery via Wikimedia.

James Rattray, 19th-century lithograph depicting royal Afghan soldiers, 1846. The British Library – Online Gallery via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

Andrew Lebovich has a fascinating post on the challenges of conducting historical research in Algeria.

Kate Bubacz collects photos from a violent week in Israel and Palestine.

Anna Edgerton Raymond Colitt read a shakeup of President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet as a sign of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s growing influence. Also in Brazil, justice and memory in the wake of the military dictatorship’s torturous war on leftist guerrillas (via Claire Rigby).

Elsewhere in Latin America, Nathaniel Parish Flannery talks to the Atlantic Council’s Peter Schechter about Chinese investment in the region.

James Traub on the crisis of UN peacekeeping: peacekeepers are increasingly placed in dangerous combat zones while “the European forces that once formed the backbone of many tough peacekeeping missions have vanished,” and in the words of a recent report “there is a clear sense of a widening gap between what is being asked of [U.N.] peace operations today and what they are able to deliver.” On a similar note, Séverine Autesserre catalogues how UN peacekeeping can go wrong (via FP Interrupted); the lack of local knowledge, expatriate staff turnover, and disconnect between peacebuilders and local communities Autesserre identifies is reminiscent of Rory Stewart’s chapter in the book Can Intervention Work?

Perhaps relatedly, Sarah Bush examines why Washington often supports American NGOs working abroad rather than local organizations, despite the risk of a perception of “foreign interference” and local knowledge deficits.

Ana Palacio has a fairly negative take on the emerging economies BRICS bloc’s political and economic influence (again via FP Interrupted). Oliver Stuenkel, who has based his career on both studying and predicting emerging economies’ rise, argued last month that the emerging world is likely to continue growing.

Joshua Foust on being gay in the national security community.

Civil asset forfeiture may be only one example of police abuses primarily directed at people of color – and a comparatively minor one, since it doesn’t kill – but it is egregious.

I enjoyed the science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent novel Aurora – in particular the novel’s “big idea,” which can’t be discussed without spoilers – and enjoyed this spoiler-filled question and answer with the author at io9.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus," an example of the "world landscape" genre. Via Wikimedia

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (maybe), “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” an example of the “world landscape” genre. Via Wikimedia

After Russian strikes in Syria, Syria Deeply spoke with Syrians angered by civilian deaths believed at Russian hands. Russia is trying “to weaken the militant opposition on the ground, so that when negotiations start, Assad will be in a stronger position,” says one.

Outside Syria Putin’s abrupt policy shift has, of course, spurred concerns both about the murderous conflict itself and wider themes of US retreat and Obama’s handling of the crisis. Julia Ioffe pithily summarizes this criticism: “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Putin is not a strategist, he’s a tactician. But, boy, is he good at it, and, boy, is he running laps around Washington right now.” In an assessment that perhaps does not conflict with Ioffe’s Daniel Nexon (via Ben Denison) and Jeremy Shapiro (talking to Amanda Taub; via Josh Busby) see the work of a weakened Russia with uncertain prospects for success.

The military balance suggests Russian intervention will not suddenly win the war for Assad. Russia has only deployed relatively small numbers of combat aircraft to Syria, and Dave Majumdar examines the limitations of this force (via Aaron Stein); last week Michael Kofman looked at the logistical challenges a potential Russian ground mission would face (though Kofman’s judgement that “Russian forces are unlikely to launch a major air campaign on Assad’s behalf and put its assets at risk” appears to have been mistaken). As Jonathan Marcus writes Russian weapons targeting systems are more primitive than their Western counterparts, though a key Russian advantage is the ability to collaborate closely with the Assad regime’s forces on the ground. Additionally, if the Assad regime’s manpower shortage motivated the Russian’s late-hour intervention, in Dan Trombly’s words “air support and increased ground contingents won’t fix [Syrian Arab Army] force generation problems.”

Regardless of combat prowess, what is Russia’s endgame? Tyler Rogoway suggests that Putin could leverage increased Russian influence in Damascus to force Assad out of power in favor of a more internationally-palatable – though equally charitable to Russian interests – successor (Kofman notes this possibility as well, citing Hafizullah Amin in Afghanistan), though Antoun Issa reports that some observers question whether the risk of a post-Assad regime splintering makes a coup unlikely (via Joshua Landis).

Paul Quinn-Judge notes that while Russia’s Syria policy dominates the news, its actions in Ukraine are not going particularly well. Should Russia disengage from the conflict in eastern Ukraine “it will discover, if it has not done so already, that separatist leaders have developed their own, usually corrupt, interests, and may not go quietly, and that fighters, abandoned to their own resources, may turn to crime.”

Turning to US policy, Philip Gordon questions the mismatch between US goals in Syria – Assad’s immediate ouster, but only at the hands of moderates – and the effort with which America is willing to pursue these goals. Since the US is unwilling to step up its efforts in Syria, the only option is diplomacy that, at least initially, compromises on Assad’s fate. (Also via Josh Busby.)

Elsewhere, continuing on a theme he discussed last year Peter Dörrie highlights at a number of African states’ combat aircraft purchases. What’s driving this trend, especially when the aircraft in question are expensive fast jets? In part, coup-proofing: “Keeping the military loyal is a means of regime survival — and one way to do that is giving those elites new expensive toys to play with.”

Opening with a look at post-war Mozambique, recent research by Jennifer Raymond Dresden finds that “whether an incumbent party wins repeated elections following armed conflict is determined in part by the capabilities gained by rebels while the fighting is ongoing” since many wartime organizational skills – in particular, institutionalized “political interactions with civilians” – are also relevant to politics.

Michael J. Koplow takes a long look at the US-Turkish relationship

Marking the one year anniversary of the apparent Iguala massacre, Christy Thornton highlights Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s misguided focus on highlighting Mexico’s potential for foreign investors while mismanaging the country’s devastating security crisis (via FP Interrupted).

After the Colombian state and FARC reached a historic accord in Havana, Oliver Kaplan (via Roxanne Krystalli) and Boz reflect on the prospect of peace.

In remarks to the UN General Assembly earlier this week, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff repeated the longtime call for UN Security Council reform and discussed her country’s clean energy goals.

Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Laurence Housman, via Wikimedia.

Laurence Housman, via Wikimedia.

What I read this week:

In a stunning story from Argentina, the president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an organization which seeks to locate the children of parents murdered during the country’s military dictatorship and raised by others, was recently reunited with her own grandson. This Agência Brasil piece (in Portuguese) includes the truly horrific detail that the now-grown child’s mother gave birth handcuffed and blindfolded in a concentration camp, and was murdered shortly afterwards.

Speaking of (though of course on a much larger scale than the Southern Cone), Rachel Strohm raises the interesting comparison between Cambodia and Vietnam — societies that experienced political violence forty years ago — and African countries which experienced violence roughly twenty years more recently.

After the recent war between Israel and Hamas that left well over a thousand Palestinians dead, Jeremy Pressman attribute’s Israel’s behavior to a desire to hold onto the West Bank and Martin Schmetz writes off the two-state solution. Emily L. Hauser asks whether Palestinians have  right to self-defense (via Daniel Larison).

Why does the United States intervene in some conflicts but not others?

Kevin Lees ominously calls the current ebola outbreak “west Africa’s most difficult governance  crisis since the end of its civil wars in the early 2000s.”

The challenges of managing food delivery business in African cities, where “everything is possible.”